Monday, December 12, 2016

Your 2017 Giants: Arbitration-Eligible Players Offered

Here is the news as reported by Pavlovic:
The Giants tendered contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players on Friday, agreeing to one-year contracts with two of them. 
Right-hander Cory Gearrin will get $1.05 million and infielder Ehire Adrianza will receive $600,000, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 
The Giants will exchange figures with George Kontos, Will Smith, Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie. They traditionally have avoided going to actual arbitration hearings. 
Gearrin, Kontos and Smith will make up a chunk of the bullpen next season, while Nunez is expected to start at third base. Gillaspie, the postseason hero, should see more playing time and Adrianza is currently slated to return in his familiar bench role.
MLBTR published again their annual estimates of arbitration salaries for all eligible players:
  • Adrianza:  $508K (actual:  $600K)
  • Gearrin:  $1.1M (actual:  $1.05M)
  • Gillaspie:  $900K
  • Kontos:  $1.7M
  • Nunez:  $4.4M
  • Smith:  $2.3M

As this illustrates, their estimates are pretty close and the estimated overall so far ($1.608M) is close to the actual overall ($1.65M).  Errors in estimation tend to be random, and cancel each other out in the final summation.

ogc thoughts

This was as expected.  The three relievers are the vets now making up the bridge to Melancon.  Strickland is nearing vet status and his spot is secure.  Law, Okert, and Osich will battle for the final two bullpen spots,  but really it is Okert and Osich finding for the final spot, as Law pretty much as a spot as long as he is healthy and performing.

Furthermore, if there is a long reliever in Cain or Blach or Suarez, that takes another bullpen spot, and two of the relievers will be shuffled off to Sacramento instead.  Since these three have options, you never know how things work out, both health-wise and performance-wise.  For example, Brian Wilson was a shoo-in in spring training but was a hot mess and didn't get a spot.  In addition, with the new 10-day DL, there will probably be more DL's used to give a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher a blow during the season.

Given the payroll situation (basically any salary added on going forward will cost 50% more because of the tax on any additions), there is unlikely to be any veteran added to challenge Nunez, and thus the spot is pretty much his.  Adrianza and Gillaspie will provide nominal competition, but I don't see how either could unseat Nunez other than by injury for Nunez or massive regression in performance.

This holds true for any potential LF the Giants might pursue, that there would be a 50% tax on any additional salary there.  That's why JD Martinez won't happen without a flip of a similar contract to the other team.  And given that the only deadweight contract on the roster is currently Matt Cain, who has not performed in years, most teams are not interested in taking on his contract.

However, I still think that Cain can come through for us, if he can stay healthy.  He was starting to return to prior goodness before he strained his hamstring last season.  This season he will have the full spring training to get into playing shape, and will be that further away from his surgery.  He could give us one last good season before being let go (though that's not an absolute given: with a $7.5M buyout, it would only cost $14M to retain him, so it will depend on how ready Blach and/or Beede are ready to take the last rotation spot in 2018, and how well Cain performs in 2017; if he can be average, he would be a good at that price).

There is also talk that the Giants want to add a power bat on the bench, but this tax restraint holds for that as well.  We will see how things go, as it will depend on who is available on free agency in early 2017.  An Aubrey Huff type available then would probably be interesting to the Giants, as his $3M contract would be $4.5M with the tax.  I would say that this is the upper bounds for how much they would spend on someone then.

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